“Roman” and I haven’t exchanged words for about 10 seconds, but you wouldn’t know it from the look on his face.
This artificially intelligent avatar, a product of New Zealand-based Soul Machines, is supposed to offer human-like interaction by simulating the way our brains handle conversation. Roman can interpret facial expressions, generate expressions of his own, and converse on a variety of topics—making him what Soul Machines calls a “digital hero.”
Right now, though, Roman is glitching, stuck in a routine of blinking, furrowing his eyebrows, and twisting his mouth into a polite half-smile. Moments ago, he’d asked me what music I would beam into deep space if I were in charge of NASA, but my answer—the seminal modern jazz fusion tune “Lingus” by Snarky Puppy, of course—seems to have caught him off guard. Watching him emote at me in complete silence, I eventually start cracking up.
Silly as it may seem,…